NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship Tops 18.7M Viewers


The Walt Disney Company is reporting that after an run of record ratings for the Final Four, the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship culminated with massive viewership on ESPN and ABC, with 18.7 million viewers watching South Carolina Gamecocks beat Iowa Hawkeyes.

Those preliminary figures are expected to grow when final Nielsen numbers are reported.

The audience was up 89% from 2023’s Women’s National Championship and a whopping 285% over 2022’s game. The viewership for the highly anticipated battle between two of the best teams in the country peaked with 24 million viewers.

The championship ranks as the most-watched basketball game — pro or college — since the 2019 Men’s NCAA Championship. And, excluding football and the Olympics, it’s the most-watched sporting event across all networks since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series.

“With a record-setting audience of 18.7 million viewers, Sunday’s Iowa-South Carolina title game was a fitting finale to the most-viewed ever NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament,” Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN chairman, said. “These exceptional athletes, coaches and teams captured our attention in unprecedented ways and it’s incumbent on all of us to keep the incredible momentum going. I’m also very proud of our talented and committed employees for how they presented this historic event.”

In the wake of the tournament, Disney stressed that its investment in women’s athletics continues to grow. ESPN announced in January that it reached a new, eight-year agreement with the NCAA for championships media rights. The new deal, which will begin in September, includes domestic rights to a record 40 NCAA championships — 21 women’s and 19 men’s events — and international rights to those same NCAA championships plus the Division I men’s basketball tournament.